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NT opens Beetaloo up for development

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Photo by Bloomberg

4th May 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

     

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PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Northern Territory government has green-lit the development of the Beetaloo sub-basin after taking on board 135 recommendations made in the 2018 Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing.

Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said this week that the inquiry had concluded that industry risks could be managed, and over the past four years, the territory government has been working to implement the recommendations by undertaking comprehensive baseline studies and developing multiple assurances for the regulation and monitoring of an onshore gas industry.

The territory government will now move to carefully manage the onshore gas industry through its strengthened regulatory framework, ensuring greater transparency and accountability – and with Aboriginal people having a seat at the table.

This means all applications made for gas production in the Beetaloo sub-basin, subject to the industry’s successful exploration and appraisal results, will go through a rigorous approval and monitoring process.

“The release of the Final Implementation Report into the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing, sets out significantly stronger environmental, cultural, social, economic and health protections in place than existed before the Inquiry was held. Gas is the transition fuel that enables renewable energy technology,” said Fyles.

“The new industry standards set the bar high with clear expectations and transparency for industry compliance. 

“As we move forward, I will continue to listen to and work with territorians. Together, we will increase local job opportunities, expand the Territory’s economy and maintain our unique culture and environment.

“Along with our world-class renewable resources, our highly prospective onshore gas resources will support our energy security during the transition to renewables, and will improve living standards for all territorians.”

The territory government has allocated A$2-million in its 2023 budget, and per year going forward, for the Petroleum Operations Unit, which will ensure that the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security continues to assess environmental management plans, delivers a strong compliance programme and provides education and guidance to industry.

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (Appea) said this week that the development of the Beetaloo basin would support thousands of new jobs and would deliver millions of dollars of investment into regional communities, while boosting the nation’s east coast energy security.

“This is the beginning of a new wave of prosperity for the Northern Territory and Australia, delivering new jobs and substantial economic benefits while strengthening east coast energy security,” said Appea NT director David Slama.

“The Northern Territory has backed the Beetaloo and it’s great news for the businesses and people of Darwin and regional communities like Katherine and Tennant Creek to benefit from new investment and jobs.

“Gas is already so crucial to the Northern Territory economy, employing 11 000 workers along the supply chain, enabling about A$19-billion of economic activity annually, and our commitment to working with regional communities will ensure the benefits will continue to be shared.”

Research has found Beetaloo development, depending on its size, could create up to 6 300 jobs, a A$1-billion increase in revenues projected to the Northern Territory government over the next two decades and A$22.4-billion in Northern Territory economic growth by 2040.

Appea CEO Samantha McCulloch said new gas supply was important to putting long-term downward pressure on prices and continuing to deliver energy security on the east coast.

“The Beetaloo basin is a major new gas supply opportunity in Australia and today it is a big step closer to realising the extraordinary economic benefits,” she said.

“The east coast energy system pressures last winter exposed the long-term under-investment in gas supply because of bans and regulatory uncertainty in southern states.

“The Beetaloo has been progressed under a stable long-term policy environment over the past five years that has allowed companies to invest millions of dollars in exploration, benefiting remote regional communities.

“This is the kind of policy environment needed on the east coast in states like New South Wales and Victoria to avoid forecast shortfalls in coming years and ensure gas can play a critical role in the transformation of our energy system for net zero.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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